Conversion of human waste into biochar using pyrolysis at a community-scale facility in Kenya

2011 - 2015 • Climate Foundation


To design, build, and test a self-contained system that can pyrolyze (decompose organic material at high temperatures without oxygen) human solid waste into a type of biological charcoal (biochar) that captures and stores carbon.


In the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge (RTTC), researchers from all over the world are challenged to come up with a radical new technology for treating human waste, and eventually making it accessible for the whole world. Just treatment is not enough though; the solution has to be affordable, and has to produce valuable elements from the waste - either energy, clean water, nutrients, or all. Phase 1 of the RTTC was aimed at proving the feasibility of the technology; in August 2012, a working prototype of the biochar reactor was demonstrated at the Reinvent the Toilet Fair at the headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Together with Sanergy in Nairobi, the technology will be developed further to make it ready to process human waste on a large scale in Kenya.


Detailed location of main activity  Countries of activity


The goal of this project is to design, build, and test a self-contained system that can pyrolyze (decompose organic material at high temperatures without oxygen) human solid waste into a type of biological charcoal (biochar) that captures and stores carbon. The design target of phase 1 was to deliver a proof of concept of the technology, towards the ultimate goal of processing two tons of human waste daily at a facility located in the slums of Nairobi.

Further information

Research or implementation partners: Stanford University

Biomass Controls was also a partner: Biomass Controls was included in a consultancy role for the development and adaption of pyrolysis technology to run on human solid waste feedstocks.

Filter tags

Asia & Pacific Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Energy: fuel (liquid or solid) Faecal sludge treatment processes Fundamental research and engineering Global Local NGO Product design and engineering Resource recovery Sub-Saharan Africa Urban (entire city)


Climate Foundation
Carson City, Nevada 89701
United States

the Climate Foundation focuses on carbon sustainability in soils and oceans, including biochar sanitation infrastructure.

view profile page

Share this page on    

Follow us on    

SuSanA Partners  currently 327 partners

Show all partners »

Sanitation events

SuSanA newsmail

Stay informed about the activities of SuSanA and its partners. The SuSanA newsmail is sent out around four times per year. It contains information about news, events, new partners, projects, discussions and publications of the SuSanA network.

Subscribe to newsmail »

Latest tweets mentioning SuSanA

Tweets mentioning SuSanA »

25th SuSanA Meeting in Brasilia!

We are happy to announce that the 25th SuSanA meeting will take place prior to the World Water Forum in Brasilia, Brazil and is tentatively scheduled on 17th March 2017. Book your calenders!  SuSanA encourages and welcomes interested organisations and sanitation enthusiasts from Latin America and beyond to get in touch with the SuSanA Secretariat (!

More information can be found on the meeting page »

SuSanA meetings





Resources and publications

Our library has more than 2300 publications, factsheets, presentations, drawings etc. from many different organisations. It continues to grow thanks to the contributions from our partners.

Add item to library »

The three links below take you to special groups of items in the library for more convenient access:


The project database contains nearly 400 sanitation projects of many different organizations dealing with research, implementation, advocacy, capacity development etc. Advanced filtering functions and a global map are also available. Information on how and why this database was created is here.

People working for SuSanA partners can add their own projects through their partner profile page. You might need your SuSanA login upgraded for this purpose. Please contact us if you would like to add a project.

Trainings, conference and events materials

Missed important conferences or courses? Catch up by using their materials for self study. These materials have been kindly provided by SuSanA partners.

Regional chapters

Use the map or the search tool to access the most relevant information and knowledge products for your region or country. This includes relevant resources, events, partners or projects.

Shit flow diagrams (SFDs), excreta flow diagrams

Shit flow diagrams (SFDs) help to visualize excreta management in urban settings. Access SFDs and more through the SFD Portal.




Discussion forum

Share knowledge, exchange experiences, discuss challenges, make announcements, ask questions and more. Hint: Your discussion forum login is the same as your SuSanA login. More about the forum's philosophy »

Integrated content

We are hosting content from some other communities of practice and information-sharing portals. This section also provides a link to SuSanA's Sanitation Wikipedia initiative.

Suggest content to add »

SuSanA partners

Learn more about current SuSanA partners, and sign up to become a partner organisation (if your organisation is eligible). This way you can show your support for SuSanA's vision and fully utilise the platform's functionalities. See FAQs for more details.

Apply to become a partner »

Individual membership

Register as an individual member of SuSanA free of charge. As a member you can interact with thousands of sanitation enthusiasts on the discussion forum.  You can also get engaged in one of our 13 working groups and our regional chapters. Our FAQs explain the benefits further.

By getting a SuSanA login you can fully participate in the SuSanA community!

Register as a member


Forgot your password?